Deborah Ross interviewed Aviva Kempner on February 13, 2011 in Washington, D.C. as part of the Jewish Women's Archive "Weaving Women's Words" project.
Award-winning documentary filmmaker Aviva Kempner was born in Berlin after World War II to an American father and a Polish mother. Her desire to understand her parents led her to a career in filmmaking. Although she herself did not live through the Holocaust, she used her first film, Partisans of Vilna, to highlight the heroism of those who resisted the Nazis. Her subsequent films tell the stories of other Jewish heroes: baseball great Hank Greenberg, who inspired Jewish Americans by his success on the field and his loyalty to his religion, and Gertrude Berg, the Oprah of her time and pioneer television producer and star. In her interview, she recounts how she came to be a filmmaker, her connection to Judaism, to Israel, and to the greater Washington D.C. Jewish community.
During 2010 and 2011, Deborah Ross decided to interview a number of Jewish women living and working in and around Washington, D.C. Having lived in the area for over three decades, she wondered how these women, many of them the firsts in their fields, all of them distinguishedâunderstood their Jewish identity. In other words, she wrote, not, "What makes us Jewish?" but "What does being Jewish make us?" Over a year's time, working as a volunteer, she interviewed nine women on video.
The complete video recordings and transcripts of the interviews are available on the Internet Archive. To see the online exhibit based on this project, visit Jewish Women's Archive/DC stories